Robben Island, where Nelson Mandela spent most of his 27 years as a political prisoner is soon to become a symbol of renewable energy.
The former penal isle off the Cape Town coast for hundreds of apartheid’s opponents has become a tourist attraction is a pilot project for cleaner, renewable energyin the democratic South Africa.
South Africa’s trying to break its reliance on coal-fired energy.
Tourism Minister Derek Hanekom says heritage sites like Robben Island, botanical gardens and the country’s vast National Parks have been identified in a high-profile programme replacing dirty power with solar energy.
Robben Island will lead the process aimed to boost tourism by one-and-a-half million euros a year
Spokesman for the former prison Quinton Mtyala says installing the smaller, more efficient solar panels now available will reduce energy demand and cut the facility’s carbon footprint.
Mtyala estimates the island’s consumed a million euros in energy over the past year.
Diesel generators are used to produce the power and drive the desalination plant on the island.
South Africa suffers regular blackouts as its ageing power stations fail to keep up with increased demand.
The power outages are crippling growth in Africa’s most sophisticated economy.
However tourism last year last year brought in nine-and-a-half million visitors who contributed nearly 10 percent to the country’s GDP.